According to a study in 2019 about seniors living alone and senior loneliness, the United States has nearly 13 million older adults living alone. Due to their living situation, 60% of those aged 75 or older report feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
There are several reasons for the amount of seniors living on their own with feelings of loneliness including the changing dynamic of the American family and seniors feeling left behind in a world that is technologically advancing by the day.
But time and again, studies have shown that feelings of isolation and loneliness have more than just mental health effects on seniors who are living alone. In this article, we will explore the effects of loneliness on seniors and how community living can benefit them.
What Effect Does Loneliness Have on Seniors?
Feelings of social isolation and loneliness have far more reaching consequences than mental health effects. A recent study by Brigham Young University found loneliness in advancing years can be as deadly as smoking or obesity. These feelings can lead to significantly higher blood pressures and stress, especially in seniors.
According to A Place for Mom, loneliness also tends to lead to developing habits that are bad for health like smoking, drinking to excess and not getting enough physical exercise. Additionally, loneliness is also a risk factor for cognitive decline. The Rush Institute for Healthy Aging found that mental decline was not only faster, but the risk of Alzheimer’s nearly doubled in seniors who felt loneliness.
What is Community Living?
Community living is an alternative that has many benefits and helps combat these effects of loneliness.
Senior Community Living is a term that refers to the different types of care and housing that is available to seniors aged 55 years or older. These types of communities can be designed according to a resident’s specific needs or type of lifestyle. They can also be designed to include medical care at a level the resident needs.
What are the Benefits of Community Living for Seniors?
Seniors experiencing loneliness can benefit from community living in a variety of ways both physical and mental. Some of these benefits include:
Life Enrichment Activities – Senior communities often give residents a chance to participate in enrichment activities with other residents. These can include activities in the living community such as games, group exercise, book clubs, or just social hours with coffee and chat. These activities can also include outings into the community at large to museums and other places of interest within driving distance.
Nutritious Meals – Everyone knows that healthy eating helps you stay more active and live longer. However, while living alone, seniors often fall into the habit of not eating meals that are well-balanced due to difficulty in meal preparation or decreased income. Community living for seniors offer well-balanced meals served in the dining room, which gives the opportunity for social interaction.
Peer Support – One challenge for seniors living on their own is adjusting to the changing neighborhood around them. What was once familiar can easily change into a younger population, making it difficult to feel like part of the community. With senior community living, residents are surrounded by people in similar circumstances who understand the specific place in life in which they live.
Low Maintenance Living – For those who find they can’t get around like they used to, community living offers the chance to live well in a low maintenance environment. Yard work, snow removal, trash disposal and all other strenuous chores to maintain a home are left to employees of the community. This is helpful for both seniors who already have mobility issues and seniors who want to avoid them as long as possible.
If you or a loved one is ready to take that next step and move to a senior community living facility, Elder Care Alliance is here to guide you through this decision. Contact one of our professionals today to discuss all the options available that will fit your specific needs. We take pride in offering something that will benefit anyone no matter where they are in their advanced year.